Category Archives: Statements/Messages from the UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines

Message of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines on United Nations Day 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Department of Foreign Affairs for coming together with us at the United Nations, in this traditional celebration of UN Day here in Manila.  A special thank you to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr for taking time from his very busy schedule to join in person [alt who represents him].  And thank you to all our guests for contributing to this evening with your presence.  To SM for allowing us to use this beautiful hall at no cost, and last but certainly not least, to my colleagues who have worked very hard with our friends and colleagues in DFA to prepare this evening for us.

Tonight, is a celebration of the 74th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter, on 24 October 1945.  This of course followed the conclusion of the San Francisco conference on 26 June the same year with the signing of the Charter by 50 of its 51 charter members (Poland would sign two months later), and with the Philippines as a Charter member represented by the Honorable Carlos P. Romulo – who later went on to become the President of the fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1949 to 1950!

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Welcome Address of the United Nations Resident Coordinator at the 2019 Social Good Summit

21 September 2019

Ten years ago, Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations Department Programme teamed up to launch the Social Good Summit.

The Social Good Summit is a collective effort to tackle the most important issues of our time. It brings together global leaders and activists for a day of constructive dialogue and onstage activations.

Every Summit has always had a powerful lasting impact. Activism is celebrated and attendees are galvanized into action. In the Philippines, Rappler has been leading the Summit, with equally impactful results, and I would like to thank Maria Ressa and acknowledge our friends at Rappler for convening the Summit in the Philippines with a view to sparking action in our digital age.

In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Four years after the adoption of the SDGs, the picture is not so rosy. No country is on track to meeting all the goals. In particular, half of the world’s nations are likely to miss the targets for SDG 1 (No Poverty).

We are losing ground in other areas. One million species are threatened with extinction, We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. While high-income countries, particularly the Nordic countries, topped the global ranking for SDG achievement, they obtained their worst ratings on SDG 14 (Life Below water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Young people around the world are taking to the street to protest the lack of environmental action by governments and businesses.

We are confronted by threats arising from climate crisis, poverty and inequality, protracted conflict, migration and displacement, and the rapid changes in demography and technology. These will require effective cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Failure to do so will have far-reaching consequences for the welfare of our children and grandchildren —and our planet itself.

But just when we need bold collective action more than ever, multilateralism is being called into question. Unilateralism is on the rise, as the world becomes more multipolar but also more polarized. In many parts of the world, there is a growing disconnect between people and institutions. Renewed support for global cooperation could not be more urgent.

That urgency is the driving factor for the UN as it turns 75 next year.

The year 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Our 75th year will be less of a celebration, but rather a pretext to seek means to rejuvenate global cooperation through dialogues across the world around the future people aspire to, the threats to that future, and the tools needed for global cooperation to overcome these threats and support the road to the future they seek.

The “UN@75 and Beyond” campaign will launch “the biggest global conversation on how we will navigate this turbulent period for the world.”

Dialogues will be held at the global, regional, national and local levels and will be convened by member States, civil society, academia, labor and business groups, the youth, and by the UN itself, under the direct leadership of the Secretary-General. These dialogues will be framed by three questions:

The first is, “What kind of a world do we want to create?” Let’s pause briefly to imagine the world in 2045—when the UN turns 100. What kind of future would we have then bequeathed to our grandchildren?

The second question is, “Where is the world heading?” What would 2045 look like if current trends continue? Will we have achieved the Sustainable Development Goals and addressed the threats we face at present? Or could we expect a different set of challenges to have emerged?

Finally, we will ask ourselves, “What action is needed to close the gap—the difference between the future we want and the future that our children will probably inherit?”

These dialogues, which will be conducted throughout 2020, will produce the first-ever repository of crowd-sourced global solutions. The United Nations will set up both digital and analog feedback loops to gather views and recommendations and solutions emerging from the dialogues.

In the same way that the My World Survey, which was conducted from 2008 to 2012, and in which people were asked to name their most urgent needs, helped to shape the SDGs, UN@75 hopes to inspire us to further reimagine the future, and to restore or reinforce our confidence in an inclusive multilateralism as the most effective way to overcome the challenges of our current era.

The United Nations is continuously working to earn your confidence. As we enter a decade of action on the SDGs, and as we ask for more urgency and ambition on climate change, with 2020 being a crucial year, the United Nations will continue to evolve in step with current and emerging needs in order to remain relevant to all. The United Nations refuses to get stuck in old ways of doing things, running faster and faster only to stay in the same place. Rather, we are taking a giant leap of faith, with you, to get ahead of the problems that stand in the way of the future we want. We will work tirelessly to be the UN you deserve.

On the other hand, we enjoin you, especially the youth, to help support the building of a networked and inclusive multilateralism through the power of social media.

We are all aware of the potentials as well as the pitfalls of using social media. On the one hand, it is unbeatable as a networking tool. At the same time, this same power could be used to further divide our world, to promote falsehood, and to sow hate. In other words, to further polarize our world.

Social media is a double-edged sword, but one that you, especially, could most effectively harness for good.

I invite you to continue to discover the social good, to push the boundaries of your online lives in order to engage just as enthusiastically in efforts to build our common future. We are excited to see how your online engagement ripens into offline action that will have a transformative impact on your personal lives, your families, and your communities.

The SDGs are a roadmap to our collective future, but you and your children have a greater stake in their achievement. The world in 2030 and beyond is the future that you will inhabit. Make it a future that far exceeds the one that we have bequeathed to you. Create the future you need: it is within your reach.

I wish you all a very exciting Summit and look forward to hearing the voices and views of the impressive speakers here with us this afternoon.

Thank you. [Ends]

You may watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/unphilippines/videos/448244245786552/

Second chances

By Ola Almgren

In 2002, 19-year-old Radam Jalani, who lived in the small seaside village of Mercedes in Zamboanga City, was resigned to being a seaweed farmer for the rest of his life. When he was 12 years old, Radam’s father asked him to quit school to help his family scrape out a living from planting seaweed. The 10 years that followed stretched out like a lifetime for Radam, taking him farther and farther away from school. And yet, just six years after contemplating a future he thought he could not escape, Radam began to live the life he had chosen for himself.

Radam returned to school. As a teacher.

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The United Nations stands with Pride

by Ola Almgren*

This Pride Month, the United Nations (UN) in the Philippines stands in solidarity with the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) Filipinos, their families, friends and allies in their pursuit of equality, inclusion and pride.

The struggle for the rights of LGBTQI people is a core part of the struggle for the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by all.

The very first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

All human beings – not some, not most, but all.

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UN Philippines Message on International Women’s Day 2019

By Ola Almgren*

Manila, 8 March 2019–At the start of this year, a Filipino scientist became one of the directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s preeminent organization for nuclear technology and its safe and peaceful applications.

The Filipino scientist is a woman–Dr. Jane Gerardo-Abaya. She now leads the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation Asia and the Pacific Division which provides technical cooperation support to 37 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific.

Dr. Abaya’s appointment reverberated among Filipino communities around the world and was cited by the Philippine government as a remarkable achievement in the country’s efforts to increase women’s representation at national and global centers of power.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. The theme puts innovation at the centre of efforts to build solutions that work for women and girls and achieve gender equality.

Last February 22, in observance of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, the International Labour Organization (ILO) cited four Filipino women that have distinguished themselves in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): Aileen Judan Jiao, president and country general manager of IBM Philippines and the first Filipina leader of the company; Ambe Tierro, senior managing director for global artificial intelligence of Accenture Technologies; Maria Cristina Coronel, president and chief executive officer of Pointwest Technologies; and Michie Ang, founding director of Women Who Code Manila.

Dr. Abaya and these four other Filipina game changers in STEM are truly exceptional.  Their achievements, and others with them, are examples of what has contributed to placing the Philippines among the top ten countries of the 2018 Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum that benchmarks 149 countries on their progress towards gender parity across four thematic dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

Still, as we congratulate the Philippines on this achievement, much remains to be done before the Philippines can truly claim to have attained Sustainable Development Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls – with the other goals of the 2030 Agenda that also need to be achieved to support this objective.  In fact and unfortunately, many women in the Philippines continue to face existential challenges on a daily basis.

These challenges include threats to their lives from childbirth.  Today, out of 100,000 Filipino women who give birth, 114 do not survive. This maternal mortality rate is higher than in other countries in Southeast Asia. It is a long way off from the Sustainable Development Goal 3 of reducing maternal deaths to less than 70 out of every 100,000 live births.  The recent adoption of the Universal Health Care Act, or Republic Act 11223, if fully implemented, will go a long way in addressing weaknesses of the health system that have failed to prevent deaths resulting from complications related to pregnancy.  As the Philippines moves forward, let’s all join in the call that “no woman should die while giving life”.

They also include exposure to sexual violence.  According to the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2017, 14-15% of Filipino girls as young as 13 to 17 years old have been sexually violated.  The same survey showed that two in five women, from 15 to 49 years old, have experienced physical or sexual violence and have NEVER told anyone about what had happened to them nor sought help to put an end to their torment.  And let’s not forget that young boys have also been victimized. In fact, by almost 6 percentage points, more boys than girls in the ages of 13 to 17 have experienced sexual violence.  We welcome ongoing legislative advocacy to strengthen the Anti-Rape Law in order to raise the age of consent from below 12 to 16, and to remove the “forgiveness clause” by which the subsequent marriage between the offender and the victim extinguishes the criminal action or the corresponding penalty.  Let’s all come together in a resolve that latest by 2030, all girls and women should be free of sexual violence, as should boys and men.

The four dimensions of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Gender Gap Report do not fully account for conditions that continue to hold Filipino women back in some areas, but they reflect unmistakable progress that has been achieved in improving the lives and well-being of Filipino women and girls over the years.  They also affirm that an all-of-society approach involving the government, civil society and other stakeholders can finally bridge a chasm that is as old as humanity itself.

By the same convergence of purpose, outstanding contributions by women will continue to advance society; mothers will live to see their children being born; and all persons, regardless of gender, will be free from sexual violence.

This is the future envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals and with our shared resolve and action, by 2030 we will be able to celebrate the realization of full gender equality on every 8 of March, International Women’s Day. [Ends]

* Ola Almgren is the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in the Philippines.

 

A Historic Opportunity for Lasting Peace by Mr. Ola Almgren

The Philippines faces a historical moment. Legislation can be passed that will put the Philippines on the path to sustained peace and inclusive development ending decades of conflict and marginalization in the proposed Bangsamoro.

The Constitution of the Philippines mandates a unitary state to drive development in the interests of all Filipinos. At the same time, the Constitution holds out the promise of meaningful autonomy for Muslim Mindanao and for the Cordilleras. In doing so, it seeks to balance the prerogatives of a unitary state with historical aspirations of unique identity groups who form part of the diverse mosaic of Filipino society.

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